KA HANA A KA MĀ, O KA HANA NO IA A KEIKI
roughly translated means:
“What parents do, children will do”
The tradition of giving a kiss when presenting a lei was said to have begun by a USO dancer in World War II. She was dared by her peers to kiss an attractive Navy man and when she did she gave him her flower necklace and told him it was a Hawaiian tradition and made it so from that point forward. Hard to know if this is the true beginnings of this tradition but it certainly makes a great story!
First issued in August 2009 to celebrate 100 years of Hawaiian statehood this stamp was designed by the great Big Island artist Herb Kawainui Kane who died recently. Here’s what the postal service said about this stamp he adorned:
“Artist and historian Herb Kawainui Kane, who has dedicated much of his life to studying Hawaiian culture and history, created the painting on the stamp. In the art, a surfer rides a wave on a longboard, a popular choice among surfers for centuries. Next to him, two people paddle an outrigger canoe to shore. Kane has extensive knowledge and experience in surfing, a favorite pastime, and in canoe construction, a skill he developed from building a traditional sailing canoe himself.”
‘Okolehao is sometimes referred to as Hawaiian moonshine and was big business on the Big Island during prohibition. It is made from the root of the Ki plant more commonly called the Ti plant, combined with rice, and pure cane sugar all plentiful in Hawaii.
What’s ‘okolehao? A hard-to-find spirit, made from C. Fruticosa, better known as the ti plant, a flowering lily that has played a significant role in Polynesian and Hawaiian society for generations.
According to the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper article, by Will Hover that appeared in 2003,
“Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island was Hawai’i's ‘okolehao focal point during the Prohibition Era from 1920 to 1933. One of the most colorful Prohibition Waipi’o moonshiners was Luther Makeau, a Parker Ranch cowboy who, according to his daughter, Virginia “Auntie Lehau” Kapaku of Nanakuli, eventually went to prison for his outlaw activities.
“It was 100 percent alcohol, I know that,” Kapaku said. “They sold it by the gallon jug. What they’d do is chop up the ti roots and steam them in an imu.”
The fermented mash was then put in a homemade still, she said. Because the Prohibition was in full swing, the resulting beverage could sell for as high as $100 a gallon.”
It was said to have been introduced in the 1780s by a Capt. Nathaniel Portlock, on of Captain Cook’s crew, who taught the Hawaiians how to make a mildly intoxicating brew from the roots of ki — the plant more commonly known today as Ti. Around 1790, William Stevenson, an escaped convict from Australia taught them how to further distill a mash of fermented ti roots in the iron try-pots used to to boil whale blubber.
It’s fun to learn these lesser known stories of Hawaiian history and keep them alive.